I came across the 10-20-10 method of plotting about eighteen months ago, and have loved it. It’s not the only plotting technique, but I find it a great help in ensuring that my story has depth and interest throughout.
It’s a pretty simple technique. It asks for you to:
Start with 10 set-ups.
These then lead to 20 conflicts.
And finally conclude with 10 resolutions.
Let’s have a look at Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and see how it compares.
- The young prince refuses to give the beggar/enchantress shelter.
- The enchantress turns the prince into a beast.
- The enchantress puts a spell on the castle.
- The enchantress changes all his servants to things.
- The enchantress gives the prince a magic mirror.
- The enchantress gives the prince the rose and tells him that he must earn another’s love by the rose’s last petal falling on his 21st birthday, otherwise he’ll remain a beast forever.
- 10 years later: Belle is bored and wants a more exciting life.
- Belle is ridiculed by her town.
- Belle is the love interested of Gaston.
- Belle’s father is Maurice.
- Belle rejects Gaston’s romantic advances.
- Maurice and his horse get lost in the forest.
- Maurice and his horse are chased by a pack of wolves.
- Maurice finds the castle, and the Beast/prince detains him there.
- Belle goes to the castle, and offers to take her father’s place. Her father objects.
- In town, Gaston is emo about Belle.
- In town, Maurice can’t convince anyone in town to go save Belle.
- Belle refuses to have dinner with Beast/prince.
- The forbidden West Wing is discovered by Belle.
- The Beast scares Belle and she runs into the forest.
- Belle is at risk from pack of wolves.
- The beast saves Belle from the wolves – but is injured.
- Beast begins to develop feelings for Belle as she nurses him.
- In town, Gaston and Maurice argue about Belle.
- Belle misses Maurice.
- Belle use the mirror to see Maurice, and she sees him dying in the woods. The Beast lets Belle go to save Maurice, giving her the mirror.
- Belle loves the Beast but is now apart from him.
- Gaston realises that Belle loves the Beast, so he recruits the townsmen to go to the castle and kill him.
- Belle and Maurice are detained by Gaston.
- Gaston and the Beast fight.
- Belle and Maurice escape.
- The Beast wins the fight, and orders Gaston to leave.
- Gaston wounds the Beast anyway.
- Gaston falls to his death.
- Belle says she loves the Beast.
- The curse is broken.
- The Beast becomes human (and alive) again.
- The servants become human again.
- The castle restores to former glory.
- Belle and Ex-Beast dance in the ballroom.
Now, as this is a children’s story, each dot point is very concise here. You can imagine that, with a more complex story, each dot point might actually be a sentence or two.
I encourage you to have a go at this plotting method the next time you’re planning a novel. Alternatively, if you have a novel that you’re writing but it just doesn’t seem to be working, try to fit it into 10-20-10. If your numbers are wildly off, your focus may be in the wrong part of the novel.
Soon, a worksheet will be available for this method, along with other techniques I use for plotting. This page will be updated when I do, so stay tuned.
Apologies to the creator of the 10-20-10 method, as you have been lost in the oblivion of the internet for me. If this is you, please contact me, and I will be sure to credit your work.
Major kudos to the Wikipedia page on Beauty and the Beast for their plot outline. Saved me watching the movie again!